Moves is a free fitness app designed for people who don’t want to go high tech. There’s no training regime, no fancy goal setting. It is more about helping you change your general lifestyle than getting you ready to cycle 100km or run ten miles.
Simplicity really is the key to Moves and it is that which has probably played a significant part in the fact that it’s had more than 2.5 million downloads on the iPhone since it launched at the start of the year. It recently came to Android.
Moves can tell whether you are running, walking, cycling or in ‘transport’ mode (on a bus, in a car etc). It uses a handset’s GPS and accelerometer to help it make decisions based on, I guess, the speed at which you are moving. It also sends data to its own servers for analysis, and that can help with reporting accuracy. Be aware that there’s a bit of data usage involved.
Clever use of GPS mapping is employed to show what you’ve been up to in any one day. Information is displayed on screen in what the app calls a ‘storyline’. This is a visual representation of where you’ve been and how you got there. You can even rename locations so that if you regularly visit a certain place it looks meaningful on your storyline.
There’s not a lot to the user interface, and not a lot you can do by way of setup and personalisation. You can, though, label places you visit regularly, so that they are shown with familiar names on your storyline. If you don’t label them, places are shown as a map thumbnail.
If your mind is wandering over other fitness apps you may know Moves doesn’t compare well. It doesn’t have the web based storage that the likes of RunKeeper, or MiCoach or many others do, nor the vast online library of training schedules, or activity diary management.
Nor does it have audio alerts about how fast you are going, how far you’ve gone, or anything else. Moves is not a fitness app in same way as RunKeeper, MiCoach and the rest. It is much more about getting you moving than about measuring, monitoring, or indeed, encouraging. There are no Fitbit style badges to earn here.
Still, Moves is almost always with you. Wherever you go, you tend to take your phone, right? So, every step of the way, it can track where you go and what you do.
That’s part of the sell for Moves, but it isn’t strictly true – at least not for me.
With the Fitbit One in my pocket and my phone about my person the Fitbit consistently recorded a greater distance travelled overall simply because when I walked around the house, or went to the corner shop for a loaf of bread, I left my phone at home. Now, the corners shop is about 500 meters there and back. If you really are counting the paces, you’ll need to carry your phone all the time.
Also I found pace counting less accurate than the Fitbit One, with Moves generally counting fewer paces. The accuracy level you get may depend on the capabilities of your handset, but if you are chasing a 10,000 steps a day target, you could well find a different, more accurate device a better bet.
The developers say Moves has been optimised to help conserve battery life. For example, the GPS is not used constantly as this is a real battery drainer. I didn’t find this too much of a problem in terms of recording movement, but still I found battery demand to be a bit high. Before I started using Moves my phone rarely went below 45% in any average day’s usage. After I started it would get down to 25% fairly readily.
Move seems like a great idea. For many people the lure of a free app that tracks your movement day by day and delivers results to your phone will be too great to resist. But there are some caveats. Arguably you won’t have your phone with you all the time, step counting seems a bit inaccurate, if your handset’s battery life is not good already it might be too much of a drain, and there’s no online portal for cumulating information.
Still, if you want a start on the road to encouraging yourself to get out more, Moves could be just the ticket. Later, when you need more, you can move on to another app or a different device altogether.
- Super easy to use
- Nice on-screen display of your day’s activities
- Not entirely accurate
- No web based support
- Can be hard on the battery